(December 17, 2015)
In a world where many embrace the mindset of “what have you done for me lately”, it is unique to find a recording artist that transcends the test of time. Frank Sinatra is the premier of that unique group. It is not unusual to hear his voice in commercials nearly two decades after his death. What a special artist he was. Yet, as distinguished as he was in music, he was equally as distinguished in life.
It’s no secret that we are living in perilous times. We have celebrated advances in science, art, medicine, and the like, yet one area that has lagged behind is the area of human kindness and compassion. Regardless of our background or our lot in life, most people would agree that all people deserve to be treated with dignity, respect, and consideration. Today, as I sit behind the typewriter, I think of an instance where the outspokenness of Frank Sinatra would have been welcomed.
Earlier today, I read of a parent’s frustration with the way an adult male treated her teenage son. Her son attended an event rich with tradition where the community gathers in festivities observed at this time of the year. The parent reported that her son was told that he did not belong at the event. My thoughts immediately fell to my moments behind the lens where “Bad” Brad addressed the manner in which Frank Sinatra was a trendsetter for his time. The stories have been told time and time again. In the late 1950’s, Lena Horne was snubbed by a popular establishment. Frank Sinatra did not turn a blind eye to this snub. He courageously protested this treatment, even going as far as refusing to go into hotels where Blacks couldn’t stay or entertain. He also refused to perform before a segregated audience. Sinatra equated bigotry with disease. In other words, Sinatra put action to his words.
I challenge each of you dear readers, regardless of the face that it takes, to stand up against bigotry and hatred. Dignify your fellow human beings by treating them as you would like to be treated. Embrace people of different backgrounds and different cultures. How else will you grow? How else will you develop the ability to show compassion for others? Edmund Burke once said “all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”. Those words are powerful, but they are also true. If we sit by while others are the recipient of mistreatment or oppression, how do we affect a change? How do we help our society to evolve? How do we foster the spirit of unity and togetherness? The answer is, we don’t. And if the majority of people take no action, there will be no change.
So, when we reflect on the “what have you done for me lately” mindset, it can truly be said that Frank Sinatra, a man who was born 100 years ago, has done plenty for us all lately. May we all display the same sense of fairness, compassion, and courage that Sinatra did in his way…